SPAIN. Each year English speakers from all over the world arrive in Spain with the goal of teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language). From seasoned professionals to university students on their gap year, it seems that everyone dreams of working in Spain. But what are the best ways to get a job to live and work in Spain? Do you really need a TEFL certificate? Here is some sound advice about the options when it comes to a TEFL certificate and how to land a job teaching EFL in Spain.

What Is a TEFL certificate?

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and it is the term people use when talking about teaching English in a country where English is not the native language. Teaching English in Spain to native Spanish speakers is an example of TEFL.

A TEFL certificate simply states that the recipient has completed a TEFL course. However, as TEFL does not entail any officially defined course of study, the different TEFL certificate programs vary greatly in their course work, expectations, validity, and acceptance in English language schools worldwide.

What Is the Difference Between TEFL, TESL, TESOL & CELTA?

These terms, used to talk about teaching English, are all related to one another, however they have slightly different definitions and uses.

  • TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language (People are voluntarily studying a language that is not their own while living in their own country.)
    • Example: Teaching English in Spain to native Spanish speakers
  • TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language (People are studying a language that, while not their first language, is used and spoken in the country where they live.)
    • Example: Teaching English to citizens of Singapore (where English is one of the country’s native languages)
  • TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (People are studying a language that, while not their first language, is used and spoken in their host country.)
    • Example: Teaching English to Chinese immigrants in London
  • CELTA: Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (A qualification program offered by the University of Cambridge.)
    • Example: In order to teach TEFL, TESL, and/or TESOL classes you may want to take the CELTA certification course.

Where Can I Get Certified?

Studying for TEFL exams

Studying for TEFL exams | Parker Michael Knight

There are countless programs offering to certify you in one of the previously mentioned EFL teaching specializations. There are online programs, classroom based courses, intensive classes and even Master’s degree programs. The programs’ content, cost, and worldwide recognition greatly vary. Good programs should be externally validated and/or accredited and should include the following four components:

  1. Classroom Based
  2. 120+ Hours
  3. Observation of experienced teachers
  4. Opportunities to practice teach

The following three programs are world renowned and will allow you to work in most countries.

Where To Get Certified in Madrid

Madrid offers many different options for becoming TEFL or TESOL certified. The following schools are known to offer quality programs and, after finishing your course, they help you find a job teaching EFL in Madrid.

Do I need to Get Certified?

chalk, teaching English in Spain

Expect to use a lot of chalk when teaching English in Spain | Alkruse

Certification from a reputable program is highly recommended. You will learn important teaching methodology and have the valuable opportunity to practice teach. After taking a course you will be more employable and confident in the classroom. However, in Spain, as well as many other countries, certification is not absolutely necessary to find a job. As a private tutor or a language assistant proof of certification is not requested and while many academies do require a certification, others only ask that you be a native speaker.

The Pros & Cons of Certification


  • Employability: With a teaching certification you are definitely more employable and should not have difficulty finding a job.
  • Confidence: A teaching course is an investment in your future as a teacher. A good course should provide you with skills and teaching methods that will allow you to teach with confidence and pride.
  • Salary: As a certified teacher you can often charge a higher rate for your services.
  • Required: Many language schools (and even some entire countries) require certain certifications.


  • Cost: Certification programs are often pricey and including travel expenses the programs can be cost-prohibitive.
  • Hard Work: A good certification course consists of long hours and a lot of work. Most students dedicate their evenings to studying and preparing lesson plans.
  • Time Commitment: Depending on the course the time commitment varies, but many of the best programs offer one-month intensive programs that require full dedication.

Regardless of the path you choose, teaching EFL will surely be a rewarding experience. While a TEFL certificate is recommended to land an enjoyable and well-paying teaching job in Spain, more important is a hard working attitude and enthusiasm for teaching English.

Should I Get Certified Before or After Coming to Spain?

Many people arrive in Madrid after already receiving a teaching certificate, and others prefer to take a teacher training course here. While the most important thing is having a certificate from an accredited program, there are some specific benefits to getting certified in Madrid.


  • International Classroom: When you take your TEFL training course in Madrid you will likely be surrounded by people from all over the world in this international city.
  • Job Placement Assistance: A major benefit to receiving your certification in Madrid is the job assistance that most schools offer their graduates. You will have an immediate network to help you with your job search and any other difficulties you may have. They could even hire you to teach at their own school!
  • Getting to Know Your New Home: While taking your month long TEFL course you will be able to get to know your new city at the same time, helping you settle in quickly to your new job and environment.